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Green strategies that help market new fabrics

Innovation isn't always about manufacturing, it is sometimes about processes. Fabric and green clothing are areas that are experiencing a renaissance in marketing innovation with the new interest in "green" products. What we find when we look beyond the headlines is that not only is the initial manufacturing process important to consider, but the follow-on assembly into finished products.

Of The Earth has taken the sustainable strategy of certifying their fabric processes and their organic origination. They have also expanded the variety of fabrics being used in their finished fabric products -- another marketing advantage that not every company can meet or beat.

Of The Earth designs and markets clothing that allows people to live simply while dressing in style and comfort. The Bend, Oregon company is a leading developer of environmentally sustainable fabrics, having introduced new blends of organic cotton, hemp, silk, wool, ramie, linen, tencel, soy, bamboo, yak and cashmere. The company is establishing a new industry standard by seeking organic certification of all fibers used in its entire product line. Of The Earth currently has third-party USDA and IFOAM organic certification on soy, linen and cotton.

Of The Earth garments and accessories are available worldwide under the company's brand name and a growing number of private labels. Of The Earth donates ten percent of its net profits to the Of The Earth Foundation in support of grass-roots environmental and humanitarian causes worldwide.

But...what is Tencel?

According to NewFibers.com Tencl is the first new fiber in over 30 years. TENCEL has been called this century's greatest advancement in fiber technology.

Lyocell is produced from cellulose, the main material in plant cells, and constitutes a new fibre for clothing, hygiene, medical and technical applications. The production process for Lyocell is environmentally friendly -- the fibre has all the advantages of a natural material and is 100% bio-degradable.

And it is not just bed linen, quilts, filling fibres for mattresses, covers and a host of other things which are made of Lyocell. These materials known as "fleece materials" or "Non-Wovens" contain fibres in the form of fabrics, in which the former -- depending on the respective process -- are deliberately placed on one another, felted, needled or pressed. Moreover, they are, in the main, combined with other functional fabrics. Baby nappies, wipes, plasters and surgical wipes, tea bags, serviettes , cushion covers, protective covers for CD’s, filter materials, hat rests in cars or insulating mats when building houses can all be made out of Tencel.

I got so excited when I read about this new fabric so, of course, I researched further and found this article at Organicclothing.blogs.com that says, "Sustainable but not necessarily healthy."

Organic_Clothing brings us a thorough overview of this new "Tencel" fabric.

Tencel(R) has gained acceptance within the mainstream fashion industry and also in the eco-fashion industry as being a natural fiber that has a flattering drape and is soft, luxurious, breathable, naturally wrinkle-resistant, and environmentally sustainable.

The solvent to digest the wood pulp can be toxic but about 99% is recovered and recycled.

Lyocell fiber is eco-friendly since products made from it can be recycled and lyocell is biodegradable because it is a cellulosic fiber.

Most of the manufacturing facilities that produce lyocell fibers are in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Processes, including the chemicals that they use, can vary considerably.

But fabric processes go one step further. After the slurry is made it must be turned into that flat sheet we call fabric. While production of lyocell fibers is generally eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable, the process of turning lyocell fibers into fabric and garments can use many of the same harsh, and even toxic, chemicals and processes used in conventional garments.

Dyes in particular can be difficult to use with Lyocell fibers -- so the chemical processes used to color the fabric might not be so eco-friendly. One could conclude that, as with most products, natural colors are probably much more eco-friendly overall and more healthful next to your skin.

Read more about this process and to balance your opinion about the level of sustainability these products deliver with their finished products.